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No. 7 Lafayette, LA

Lafayette is the unofficial capital of Cajun country, also known as Acadiana. The culture in South Louisiana, like its dialect, is seasoned with the flavors of Cajun French and Creole, and Lafayette is a spicy combination of savory cuisine, outdoor adventures, spirited festivals, and breathtaking scenery. Any day of the week, visitors can dine on the best Cajun food in the world and dance to genuine Cajun and zydeco music. The dynamic downtown area bustles with eclectic shops, diverse restaurants, and urban parks, and the city also has world-class art museums and plentiful galleries.

The Atchafalaya, North America’s largest river swamp, is easily accessed from Lafayette. Swamp tours with local guides make a great introduction to this natural gem and its superb canoeing, birding, and wildlife watching. You can absorb Cajun culture and history at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Acadian Cultural Center; LARC’s Acadian Village, an authentic representation of nineteenth-century society; and Vermilionville, a living history museum and folklife park portraying Acadian life in 1765–1890.

Upcoming annual events include the Cajun Heartland State Fair (May 22–June 1) and the Louisiana Hot Sauce Expo (July 19–20), both in Lafayette, and the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival in nearby Plaisance (August 30).

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